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Known for their trippy, psychedelic videos that inject a sense of playfulness and positivity into a scene that can often take itself too seriously, Japanese hip-hop duo Yurufuwa Gang have exploded onto the global stage. Comprised of Ryugo Ishida and NENE, they dropped their crowdfunded debut album ‘Mars Ice House’ in 2017, following up with ‘Mars Ice House II’ last year. The pair recently teamed up with Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth for ‘Circus Circus’, an EP that finds them incorporating their hyper-narcotic trap sounds with high-energy production.
They were all recently in London together – playing an NTS show and Keep Hush party, and we got Ryan to sit down with the pair to chat grandparents, their favourite sweets, and near-death experiences…
Ryan Hemsworth: Where in the world are you most happy?
Both of your answers?
Nene & Ryugo: Yes.
You guys love LA, what are your favourite things about LA?
Ryugo: Palm trees.
Nene: Weed and studio. Weather. And crazy people. In Japan we stand out too much, but not in LA. Because there’s lots of crazy people.
You spent New Years Eve in Las Vegas and Roswell – what was your favourite memory from this?
Nene: We ran out of gas on our way to Area 51 and almost died. There was a storm. Like hard snow. I was driving and couldn’t see anything, and then ran out of gas. We had to get back to Las Vegas. We found a hotel, an alien inn. So we went to their door to ask for gas. I tried to knock on the door, and it opened. And then a cat saw me… And I said, “oh my god…” Then an old lady came to the door, and she screamed! Maybe she thought we were aliens, or a robbery. Then, her son or grandson came to the entrance with a gun. We said “No! We’re not such a thing! We need gas!” He was angry, but he gave us gas.
I’m surprised he gave you gas.
Nene: We paid money. I was scared. Then we returned to Las Vegas and celebrated New Years. After that, we retried Area 51. With more gas.
How did you release music for the first time – Myspace? YouTube? And what kind of music was it?
Nene: Upload to YouTube and Soundcloud.
Videos have always been important for you it seems. Do you remember the first song you released on your own?
Nene: I do but I don’t want to talk about it [laughs]
Ryugo: My first songs I gave to my friends, on CD.
Do any filmmakers inspire your music videos?
Ryugo: I loved Kids by Harmony Korine.
Nene: Tarantino. We like little bit weird, not perfect.
Could you tell me both your favourite films?
Nene: True Romance.
Nene: Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Ryugo: Goonies. And LA movies like Menace II Society, Boyz In The Hood.
Nene: Jody, our dog, is named after the character from Baby Boy. Because Jody [their dog] is baby boy.
I know sometimes you design your own artwork, logo, and make your own videos. Did anyone ever teach you or did you ever study art/design?
Nene: No study. I can’t really use Photoshop, but I get images. I have ideas for artwork and tell them to [Yurufuwa Gang producer and visual artist] Automatic.
What’s your favourite tattoo?
Nene: He [Ryugo] gave me this tattoo [points to her left arm]. It means “bad girl”.
You have a tattoo gun?
Ryugo: In junior high school I gave myself tattoo.
What was it?
Ryugo: A star.
How old were you?
Ryugo: Hmm, 13?
In Japan a lot of your fans are young, why do you think young people like your music?
Nene: Not only young, but maybe they can understand our vibes, naturally.
Ryugo: I make songs for young people.
Nene: They want to be more free. School sucks, and is so strict. We can feel together.
Maybe they see you living your life, not following all the rules.
Nene: Fuck rules. Our younger listener feels those vibes.
Ryugo: We do what we want. The younger generation can see it’s okay.
Who’s the most surprising Yurufuwa fan you have met?
Ryugo: My grandpa loves Yurufuwa Gang. He was driving one day and crashed, while drinking and listening to Yurufuwa Gang. I told him to stop it!
Some artists have names for their fanbase – like Megan Thee Stallion’s hotties. What would you call your fanbase? The Fluffies?
Nene: Little Aliens.
What’s your favourite type of candy?
Ryugo: Jelly… beans.
A specific colour?
Nene: I like Skittles.
Ryugo: Sour Patch…
Nene: I love mixing them at the candy shop.
[Nene opens a bag of sour Skittles]
Okay, thank you. Arigato.
Stream Yurufwa Gang’s ‘CIRCUS CIRCUS’: